"Don't listen to me :). Holmes suffered from schizophrenia. Treated by a doc at U of Co, head of the department. tinyurl.com/d8p9eko."
Apparently James Holmes had been treated by the director of student mental-health services at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Dr. Lynne Fenton is a researcher in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well. Days after the shooting she received a package from Holmes, drawings depicting stick figures and a man with a rifle-- a mass shooting spree. Perhaps she had asked him to draw what he saw in his head.
Nobody would want to be in Dr. Fenton's position right now. It is the reason that one of my best friends got out of treating mental illness, turned academic full time, never looked back. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, so they are the ones who see the most violent patients. Although most patients who suffer psychotic disorders are not violent, some are.
Only the strong have the stomach for this. As much as we hear about violence, we're all a little afraid that a threatening patient will turn on us, or will turn on someone else, and we will be responsible.
At lunch today the discussion turned to Holmes and someone brought out the evil card. Yours truly couldn't handle it, had to lecture about mental illness and the difference between vengeful, angry people, and those who are terrified to the core, hear demanding voices in their heads, eventually surrender to them, give in, act out.
Once I was riding my bike. Approaching a woman on the sidewalk dressed in a bright summer outfit (it wasn't summer) we locked eyes. She had an odd look and I knew, at that moment just knew, that she suffered from some psychosis, probably schizophrenia. She spat at me, missed by only a few inches, too, and I sped away. Maybe a voice in her head said,
"She's dangerous, she's on to you, she knows about you. Get her first."A reverse empath.
Some people suffering from psychoses like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder are so confused, their boundaries so poor, that they believe that they are not only the agents of God or The Devil, but that they have been endowed as super figures, omnipotent beings, biblical prophets, Jesus, or the nemesis of all that is good,
I say all of this at lunch and someone logically opines. "I think he just went postal. He'd been marginalized so many years, he had enough, wanted to punish the world." Postal, if you recall, is a reference to an actual postal worker who, fired from his job, returned and attacked his co-workers.
Could be. But most kids who show up at a university counseling center are not seen by the director who happens to have a research background in psychosis. They are seen by staff clinicians. We can all do anger management.
Then today we hear about the first copycat. He's a joker and has been fired from his job. He has an arsenal.
. . . a Maryland man who called himself "a joker" and had an arsenal of semiautomatic rifles threatened to shoot up the business in Palmer Park from which he was being fired, and was wearing a T-shirt reading, "Guns don't kill people. I do," when confronted by officers . .The difference between Holmes and Prescott?
The man, identified in a search warrant as Neil Prescott, 28 years old, made multiple threats in phone calls this week. The shooting in Colorado, coupled with the "joker" reference, gave the comments extra urgency, officials said.
Holmes is a brilliant young man who graduated at the top of his class, then seems to have gradually declined following graduation from University of California. His mental health deteriorated to the degree that he failed his neuroscience exam in June and dropped out. It appears that his sense of identity merged with a movie character, a villain, the Joker. He did what the Joker is supposed to do, set out to slaughter his "enemies." He did so with precision, planning, deliberation, joy. The Batman movie is all about slaughtering enemies, the perversity of killing. Great stuff, must be.
Neil Prescott, on the other hand, has no problem with his identity. "Guns don't kill people, I do." Prescott knows who he is and what he is doing.
|Neil Prescott (ABC news)|
He is a man known for his sense of humor, who plays jokes, and who seems to be something of a neighborhood watch kind of guy. A gentle giant. He has a huge arms collection.
He is fired from his job. He makes several calls threatening revenge. But he doesn't carry out his plan. Calls for help, maybe? Or attention? Someone stop me,
I want to kill these people who have ruined my life by firing me.
Someone pay attention, here!
They both planned an attack, but only Holmes carried his through; the pain, or at least the depths of the illness, greater than that of his copycat.